Tom Chilton says he is confident that Team Aon will find a fix for the problems it encountered during the opening rounds of the new HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch – admitting that the performance of the Ford Focus ST was good, aside from its power delivery issue.
Both Chilton and Alan Morrison struggled for straight-line speed during the first three races of the new campaign, with two eleventh places for Chilton being the best results of the weekend.
It means neither driver was able to open their accounts for the season, although the reliability of the Ford ensured that Team Aon was able to outscore Team Dynamics to lie second behind the VX Racing team in the new manufacturers/constructors championship.
Looking back on the weekend, Chilton admitted that he was frustrated that the power problem had prevented him from fighting for points, but said there were still plenty of positives to take from the debut for the new Focus.
“The team's hard efforts have paid off in many respects,” he said. “In a very short period of time they have designed and built a strong, reliable car. It is very early days in the development of the Ford Focus and other than the obvious lack of straight line speed, the car is good.
“My races were frustrating because of the problem. I was out-braking people into Clearways for example, only to have them drive straight back past me again on the run up to Paddock Bend.
“I know they couldn't cure the problem at the track, but I'm confident that a solution will be found before Thruxton and we will need it there for sure. The long, fast, sweeping layout will be a lot more difficult than Brands if we're down on power.”
For team-mate Morrison, the weekend marked a return to BTCC competition for the first time in five years, and with no time in the car ahead of the race meeting, he said he was encouraged by a weekend that yielded a best finish on twelfth.
“Obviously this weekend was a bit of a baptism of fire for me,” he said. “Getting into the car for the first time in Saturday's first practice session, I really didn't know what to expect. We know there is a problem, but putting that to one side I've enjoyed my return.
“I wanted to finish the races to give myself and the team as many laps as possible. We're not going to learn much if I'm sitting in a gravel trap, so finishing was the target. There are some very positive things with the car. Its ability on turn in, for example, is already better than any Touring Car that I've driven. There's plenty to be encouraged about and when the problem's fixed this is going to be a very quick package.”